Powerful storms swept the midwest last night, and more are expected as an unseasonal cold front crosses the region, colliding with equally unseasonal warm air that has been pouring up across the region from the Gulf of Mexico. The National Weather Service reported ‘hundreds’ of tornadoes across the region yesterday, and more are expected today. The areas of highest alert are Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, but there are at least ten states and three major cities at risk for further strong storms. The cities most at risk are Chicago, St. Louis and Houston. At the same time, snow and sleet are extending south from Colorado into New Mexico and Texas as this highly unusual weather system continues to churn across the American heartland.
122 possible tornadoes touched down yesterday, 97 of them in Kansas alone. 5 people were killed in Oklahoma, and it is not yet know how many others may be dead or injured. Property damage has been extensive. The town of Woodward, Oklahoma has been devastated, with 5 killed and 89 homes destroyed. The storm wrecked the police emergency warning system, and rescuers are converging on the community from all across the state.
These storms, which were predicted in Unknowncountry’s Climate Watch section months ago, are being caused by the fact that the Jet Stream remained far north this winter, meaning that there was little cooling in the middle lattitudes, and warm, humid air moved north from the Gulf of Mexico, causing temperature records to be broken across the winter throughout the region. Now that a more normal weather pattern has returned, with cold fronts moving down from the north as the Jet Stream slides southward into a typical early spring configuration, an exceptionally violent situation has come about. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that this week’s storms will mark the end of this process, which could continue in a series of waves of violent weather well into the summer months.